Graduate of the TAFE NSW Design Centre Enmore, Leyla Acaroglu, has been announced as one of the winners of the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade for her science-based yet creative work on bringing about change for sustainability.
Leyla is an Australian designer and innovator, and received the UN Environment’s Champions of the Earth award in the Science and Innovation category in recognition of her innovative, award-winning designs and projects that instigate positive environmental and social change.
Often referred to as ‘The Doctor of Change’, Leyla explores counterintuitive ideas about what sustainability is and how we can use them to create innovative design solutions.
In the image above, Leyla is being awarded Champion of the Earth with Ibrahim Thiaw, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (left), and UNEP Executive Director, Erik Solheim (right).
Her achievements include her UnSchool of Disruptive Design and its unique training modules, produced and led by her company Disrupt Design, and her ongoing efforts to transform the basis of human thinking, systems and design in support of a sustainable future.
Leyla, studied Product Design and Development at TAFE NSW's Enmore Design Centre from 2001-2003.
"It was clear from day one that this was a person whose passion, drive and determination was something special," says head teacher of product design at DCE, Robert Reid. "Like all good designers, she was always questioning, engaged and communicating. An example to us all of what can be achieved by creative thinking and design."
The Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim says Leyla inspires and helps people to equip themselves with the personal agency and relevant tools, deep self-awareness and knowledge they need to participate, shape the world and make a real difference in it.
“She has framed the impact of design on the way we live and the choices we have, in a way that is relatable, understandable and possible to act on,” says Erik Solheim. “This gets to the root of sustainability: having the knowledge, skills and awareness needed to transform our lifestyles and make interventions that challenge the status quo.”
Leyla Acaroglu rallies an actively engaged creative community in New York and around the world to curate experiences that evoke positive change. She has developed toolkits that help designers and creative practitioners engage with problem solving for sustainability and social change. The Disruptive Design Method was developed to transfer systems and sustainability sciences across disciplines so that people can engage with substance-based problem solving for complex local and global issues.
“Design is a fundamental and profoundly influential practice,” says Leyla, “but it struck me just how little awareness there is of the incredibly influential force that the designed world has on us all – the majority of the world is scripted. The things we design, design us, and we can use design to create positive change so the future works better for all of us.”
For more information
- Innovative product design and industrial design courses
- Leyla’s TED talk from California
- Leyla’s website
- UN Environment’s Champions of the Earth
About Champions of the Earth
The annual Champions of the Earth prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.
Since being founded twelve years ago, the awards have recognized 78 laureates - ranging from leaders of nations to grassroots activists - in the categories of policy, science, business and civil society.
Leyla joins Jose Sarukhan Kermez, Mexican research biologist (Life-time Achievement); Afroz Shah, Indian environmental organizer (Action and Inspiration); Rwandan President, Paul Kagame (Policy Leadership); Moroccan Sustainable Energy Agency, Masen (Entrepreneurial Vision); and a posthumous Action and Inspiration award for Berta Cáceres, Honduran rights campaigner killed in March 2016.